Liz Jones: In which I snoop on my ex

Liz Jones

I am feeling a bit stressed. ‘No change there!!’ I hear you chorusing over your uncomplicated Sunday brunch with your loving, non-greedy family. On Sunday night, my last weekend in Somerset, I went to say goodbye to my nephew. He was sitting there, in the lovely cottage I bought him and his mum, his laptop on his knee, iPhone in his palm (both gifts from me; and people say I don’t like children!). Although I have been defriended on Facebook by the ex-husband, the Man Mountain, my nephew is still one of his friends.

‘Go on,’ I said. ‘Snoop on him. Let’s see what he’s up to.’

So he did. And he came up with a picture of a tortoiseshell cat. ‘He appears to have a cat,’ my nephew said innocently, having no idea of the tirade he was about to unleash, the venom, the incredulity, the betrayal.

‘Noooooo!’ I wailed, lunging. ‘Let me see! He never even acknowledged the fact Squeaky died!’

The cat was on an unmade bed, so
by all evidence it could well have been the Man Mountain’s bed. But in the background, on shelves, were girlie ornaments: teddies and dolls and gonks. OK, not gonks. He wouldn’t be dating someone old enough to own an actual gonk.
‘No, that can’t be his cat,’ I told my nephew adamantly (that is not a cryptic clue to the identity of my rock star BF: I am not dating Adam Ant). ‘He is too lazy to have a cat. It would starve. He was always forgetting to buy Squeaky’s special diet biscuits.’

We watched The X Factor, while my sister cooked supper, our last supper before I move about 450 miles away. But I couldn’t hear The X Factor, as no one ever has the TV loud enough for me to even make a stab at what on earth is going on. At 9pm, I bid my farewells and emerged into the foggy, frosty air. I had to be up at 4am the next day to go to work. But even though I went to bed early, at 10pm, I couldn’t sleep, what with the worry of the move. There are so many cats, I thought, tossing and turning in my Toast pyjamas. So many things could go wrong.

Then on Monday, Eric my solicitor called me. ‘You need more money to pay back the mortgage. The price you accepted for your property is just not enough.’

The bed was unmade, so it could be his. But what about the girlie ornaments?

‘Are you sure? Why didn’t you point this out sooner?’

‘Yes. I’m sure. I wrote to them once we’d exchanged, and they have just written back [has he not heard of email?]. Once I’ve been paid, and the Halifax, and the estate agent, you are still short.’

Oh dear. Oh that I had a maths O-level. By extreme juggling, by Tuesday Eric was able to pay off the Halifax, but I won’t be able to move into my rental, as they have demanded a year up front due to my credit history, and the sheer number of cats. Come next Monday at midday I will officially be homeless.

Of course, if I didn’t have animals, I could move into the Cupboard. But I don’t think I’d get 17 cats and four incontinent collies past the porter. And what of the horses? I feel sick. I emailed my bank. I told them I have sold everything, even my fridge and my TV. They are implacable.

I’m currently hoping for a miracle. I wish life were simple. A week ago, I went to visit my mum, who is now barely alive. She could only open one eye, as the other is sealed shut. She looked at me, not recognising me, and could only whisper, ‘I’m hungry.’ I told the nurse, but she said my mum had had lunch: a syringe of warm water and a teaspoon of baby food. I’m powerless to act. I have no idea what to do.

As my mum has endured a living death a year beyond expectations, she now no longer qualifies for end-stage palliative care, and is about to be moved into a care home. I don’t know what to do. How has it come to this? I work hard. I’m nice. I give people things. I give people everything. And now both my mum and I have nothing. Nothing at all.